seem to be the topic of choice for everyone this month. Personal conversations,
magazine articles, and advertisements are overwhelmingly concerned with efforts
to be made for the coming year. I must admit to a certain weariness with hearing
or reading about popular schemes for self-improvement.
The first item on many resolution lists has something to do with losing weight
by controlling intake. This is quite often combined with exotic notions about
substances to be eaten or avoided. Now, I have nothing against such decisions,
since they are a private matter. The most important word in that last sentence
is private. Unfortunately, people with food schemes seem to think that their
decisions make for interesting conversation. Indeed, it is often next to
impossible to get an enthusiastic dieter to shut up about what they are or are
not consuming. The worst of these folks are guests who feel entitled to grill
their hosts about menu selections, then preach to the assembled company about
why these things are important.
Now hear this; a good guest is not dramatic. It is possible to follow a plan in
a modest fashion, those who keep kosher do it all the time. If invited to a home
where the level of kashrut is in doubt, we offer to bring our own food
and utensils. After all, the important thing about an invitation is a chance to
enjoy being with the hosts, not getting a free meal. Those on weight-loss or
other regimens would do well to emulate this behavior, rather than attempt to
force their choices on others who only wanted to spend a little time together.
It is not often that I bemoan the good old days, but this question of courtesy
has me wishing for them. I was taught to accept an offering graciously, or
decline it with a quiet no thank you. Sometimes, choices were offered, but it
was considered rude to make a request which a host might be unable or unwilling
to fulfill. Thus, when planning a party, it was perfectly correct to make a tray
of cocktails, merely having a pitcher of ice water available for those who did
not care to imbibe.
Of late, I've been quizzed as to whether a soda was sugared or diet, the
caffeine or lack thereof in coffee, and even if the water was filtered. This
presumptuousness has often begun before an event, with people asking what I plan
to serve or who the other guests will be.
As a planner, I ask any first-time guest about allergies, or foods they
absolutely hate, but do not feel any responsibility beyond that. Should someone
present me with an extensive list of preferences, it is likely that the first
invitation will be the last. As a hostess, I am outraged that anyone would feel
entitled to know the identity of other guests ahead of time. People who come to
my home, are coming to see me; they are not dining from a restaurant menu, nor
editing their personal social register. How I wish some people would make a
resolve to be polite themselves, rather than filling my ear with complaints
about youngsters and their lack of niceties.
A resolution can be a fine thing, particularly if it has to do with making the
world a better place. I would be delighted to learn of a friend's decision to
donate an afternoon a month to their local library, hospital, or botanical
garden. Likewise, I applaud those who are making an effort to be more kind
towards neighbors, or to do something good for the environment. It would be
lovely, for example, if those who want to eat less decided that they would
donate food to a shelter, rather than consuming it at home. However, if a
resolution is purely selfish, perhaps it should be kept to oneself.